What CDP or DAC cured your itch to keep looking?

Another Philips TDA1541 + CDM transport fan here. Lately, my ears tell me that the JVC Optima and Sony ESS transports may be giving the Philips CDM a run for the money if not actually better. That said, I'm enjoying music from cheap CDs!
JE2A3, I like NOS too, but I have not reached an endpoint on digital yet. Yesterday, I stumbled on the Audial audio site and the S5 DAC has me drooling. Audial | High end audio D/A converters and amplifiers There are zero reviews and zero used units for sale. If you can DIY, boards, etc. are also available.

He offers transformer and capacitor coupled units, but I don't know which is preferable. His blog has good info on the TD1541A chip.

A little more info: The Audial Model S DAC |    The Audio Standard
 
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mhardy6647

Señor Member
Well -- this one pretty much did, because.
1) I got it essentially free (for the cost of shipping) -- a "Karma" on Club Polk.
2) I am really pretty lazy.
3) I am really very cheap.
4) I mean, it's only digital, you know?

:confused: :o

BDA-1 plus DVD-1730 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

Full disclosure: I did pick up one of these for USB DAC use -- it was a Club Polk Karma, too. I have been very fortunate there. Consequently, I have tried to return good karma for good karma, at least occasionally. :)
Top right.
DSC_0635 (2) by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
 

je2a3

Senior Member
JE2A3, I like NOS too, but I have not reached an endpoint on digital yet. Yesterday, I stumbled on the Audial audio site and the S5 DAC has me drooling. Audial | High end audio D/A converters and amplifiers There are zero reviews and zero used units for sale. If you can DIY, boards, etc. are also available.

He offers transformer and capacitor coupled units, but I don't know which is preferable. His blog has good info on the TD1541A chip.

A little more info: The Audial Model S DAC |    The Audio Standard

I've read the forum posts as well as the blog of the Audial DAC designer but some of the technical information discussed are way over my head. Having been a DIYer since the 90s, I can't answer your question directly. Instead, I'll share how my DIY nosTDA1541tube DAC evolved and the lessons I learned. Please keep in mind that I listen primarily to Red Book standard CDs.

1. The analog output section has the most significant effect on the sound of a DAC.

The Topping D30 and XS DAC 01a share the same CS4398 DAC chip but I preferred the sound of the DAC 01a because of the tube buffer at the end of op-amps in the analog output path. When I compared the AA DITB, Adcom GDA600, Muse TDA1543x4 and Audio GD R2R 11, I felt that the op-amp analog section in the GDA600 was limiting the potential of the BB PCM63 chip, because in spite of the limited frequency extremes due to the passive output of the Muse TDA1543x4, it sounded more organic. Likewise, I preferred the Audio GD R2R11 perhaps due to its discrete analog output section.

2. NOS (non-oversampling) reminded me of removing negative feedback from my first PP2A3 amp project in the early 90s - less compression and harshness.

While I was experimenting with NOS and rolling op-amps inside 80s Magnavox CDPs and the Chinese TDA1541 kit, I lucked into a 1st generation Arcam Delta Black Box (discrete analog section), which according to a '89 Stereophile review, sounded a bit harsh in the top end. After bypassing the SAA7220 chip, I couldn't detect the harshness and it sounded better than any of the DACs I had.

3. I chose the TDA1541 because it was designed by the developers of the CD format. The chips are still relatively easy to find and the DAC kit boards from China are easy to procure and are affordable. Thus, others will be encouraged to DIY their DAC in pursuit of the sound they want.

That said, I hope you can give the S5 a listen in a familiar system before you commit to buying one.
 
I've read the forum posts as well as the blog of the Audial DAC designer but some of the technical information discussed are way over my head. Having been a DIYer since the 90s, I can't answer your question directly. Instead, I'll share how my DIY nosTDA1541tube DAC evolved and the lessons I learned. Please keep in mind that I listen primarily to Red Book standard CDs. Same here.

1. The analog output section has the most significant effect on the sound of a DAC.

The Topping D30 and XS DAC 01a share the same CS4398 DAC chip but I preferred the sound of the DAC 01a because of the tube buffer at the end of op-amps in the analog output path. When I compared the AA DITB, Adcom GDA600, Muse TDA1543x4 and Audio GD R2R 11, I felt that the op-amp analog section in the GDA600 was limiting the potential of the BB PCM63 chip, because in spite of the limited frequency extremes due to the passive output of the Muse TDA1543x4, it sounded more organic. Likewise, I preferred the Audio GD R2R11 perhaps due to its discrete analog output section.

2. NOS (non-oversampling) reminded me of removing negative feedback from my first PP2A3 amp project in the early 90s - less compression and harshness.

While I was experimenting with NOS and rolling op-amps inside 80s Magnavox CDPs and the Chinese TDA1541 kit, I lucked into a 1st generation Arcam Delta Black Box (discrete analog section), which according to a '89 Stereophile review, sounded a bit harsh in the top end. After bypassing the SAA7220 chip, I couldn't detect the harshness and it sounded better than any of the DACs I had.

3. I chose the TDA1541 because it was designed by the developers of the CD format. The chips are still relatively easy to find and the DAC kit boards from China are easy to procure and are affordable. Thus, others will be encouraged to DIY their DAC in pursuit of the sound they want.

That said, I hope you can give the S5 a listen in a familiar system before you commit to buying one.
Thanks for the considered reply. The best Red Book playback I've heard was a 47 Labs Flatfish transport and Progression Dac. Red Book done right sounds excellent. I like NOS Dacs. The fact that there are no commercial reviews or used units for sale is unusual. The technical jargon is way over my head too but I think this guy really knows what he is doing. I'm old enough to remember Quadraphonic, hoped SACD would be the norm, but....no cigar. There is more music on Red Book than any other digital format and most of what I listen to is on the CD format. I can easily live w/o Hi-rez.

A DIY version is also offered but that is beyond the capabilities of this six-toed sloth with a soldering iron.
 
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I ordered a transformer-coupled unit. I have an MHDT Labs Orchid and read a post by someone that had an Orchid, bought this Dac and sold the Orchid.
 

RichPA

Junior Member
I have been through more than a dozen DACs over the years, and it was the Benchmark DAC3 that finally stopped the merry-go-round for me. I no longer play CDs in "real time," but rip them to a server when I get them. Second place would be pretty close between the Benchmark DAC2 and the DAC in the Oppo BDP-105.
 
After being suckered into a "top line" TEAC, and NAD, both developed problems. I settled on a Yamaha CD-S700 that was supposed to be all of that and a bag of chips. Well, it wasn't. It's USB port barely worked and it had other problems, like not being able to recognize known good discs. So, back it went...and a customer rep told me to try the lower priced (and newer designed) CD-S300, so that left me with about $300 left over. So far, it performs flawlessly and it's USB port works great!

View attachment 38448
Curious- which Teac did you own? And what problems did you have with it?
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
Well, after saying I was fine with my setup, I decided I really needed a DAC that supported DSD and high-res files, but didn't want to lose the magic of the R-2R GDA-600...so I used a small bonus I got from work and bought a Denafrips Ares II.

(don't worry, the Adcom will stick around - I've got a near-field setup in my home office using a GCA-510 integrated and some holey-basket Corals, so that should play well - the Adcom will replace the Meridian Explorer I'm currently using)
 
There are so many excellent DAC options out there. Transports and CD players a bit more challenging to find ideal units.

I expect the DAC market will continue to improve and do so dramatically. I find that pretty exciting. Some day perhaps I’ll stop being a luddite and join the high resolution streaming world.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
There are so many excellent DAC options out there. Transports and CD players a bit more challenging to find ideal units.

I expect the DAC market will continue to improve and do so dramatically. I find that pretty exciting. Some day perhaps I’ll stop being a luddite and join the high resolution streaming world.
I lucked out on the two Philips swingarm CDPs I found, but they are out there. They're pretty damn durable, provided you don't abuse them.
 
I lucked out on the two Philips swingarm CDPs I found, but they are out there. They're pretty damn durable, provided you don't abuse them.
I’m familiar with them. Are laser assemblies available though? I had thought they were extinct.
 
It's been too many years for me to remember, but I can tell you that it it could not play certain discs, and the display died on it way too soon.
Sorry to hear that.

I have their PD-H600 and it’s a pretty impressive unit. One never fully knows, however, what one is getting into with a new model at the time.
 
The DAC that stopped my search for the longest time was my EAD DSP 9000 Series III Pro fed by a T-7000 transport. I had upgraded from an EAD DSP 7000 II. All was right in the world until the analog boards suffered a major capacitor failure and destroyed the unit. I still have the four (!) BB PCM 64K Dac chips out of it. Future project, perhaps.
I just run some Teac DACs now. A UD-301 in the bedroom system and a UD-501 in the big rig. Good enough for now, as I primarily spin vinyl these days.

Dan
 
The DAC that stopped my search for the longest time was my EAD DSP 9000 Series III Pro fed by a T-7000 transport. I had upgraded from an EAD DSP 7000 II. All was right in the world until the analog boards suffered a major capacitor failure and destroyed the unit. I still have the four (!) BB PCM 64K Dac chips out of it. Future project, perhaps.
I just run some Teac DACs now. A UD-301 in the bedroom system and a UD-501 in the big rig. Good enough for now, as I primarily spin vinyl these days.

Dan
I still have my EAD DAC and I have a Teac UD-501. No flies on that Teac- it’s more than a decent unit.
 

MWalt

Active Member
I am pretty content at the moment with my Audiolab 6000CDT transport and my Chord Chordette Qute HD. Although the Chord is getting up there a little in age, it is still pretty special with redbook CD.
 
I am pretty content at the moment with my Audiolab 6000CDT transport and my Chord Chordette Qute HD. Although the Chord is getting up there a little in age, it is still pretty special with redbook CD.
Both of those have stellar reputations. And while DAC development keeps on keeping on, some of the older units are still excellent performers. You hear of folk hunting down older players and DACs frequently for just this reason.

My EAD DAC is ancient in the world of DACs but sounds great. My Rega DAC has to be what, possibly a 10 year old design now? It still sounds fantastic. The USB module is it’s Achilles heel, but I don’t use that. So no issue.
 
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